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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Abby Sale Lyr Add: Bald Headed Woman (8) RE: Lyr Add: & Req. - Bald Headed Woman 17 Nov 06


Following up:

I draw your attention to:

http://www.folkstreams.net/ which is folkstreams.net - "A National Preserve of Documentary Films about American Roots Cultures" Streamed great stuff. RealPlay or Quicktime, etc. Wonderful stuff to make available in one easy place.

One film included is "Gandy Dancers," A 1994 film by Barry Dornfeld and folklorist Maggie Holtzberg. Track lining (the action _and_ the L of C work song we know) is demonstrated. Maybe be the same fellers we saw in their demonstration at Mystic - I don't know. Good narration and subtitles, too.

I been out east, I been out west
I believe I like Alabama the best
etc.

I don't know but I been told
Susie got a jelly roll
etc,

But I especially point to: "Afro-American Work Songs in a Texas Prison," down the page. It has its own link but you want to see the whole front page. This is actual footage of Lomax' 1960's prison tour - not the 40's one. "Unfortunately" as Lomax notes, the singing quality - intensity - of the songs had much deteriorated. It is suggested this may be due to significantly humanized working conditions. A shame.

This was a good find for me - the Ancient Spouse has been suffering some hair loss recently - I hasten to add that now that A.S. stopped following doctor's orders and medication the problem seems much alleviated - But _naturally_ I started singing,

"I don't no bald-headed woman
She too mean, Lord, lordy
She too mean."

There was a minimalization of enjoyment of my humor here but that's never stopped me before. Anyway, I still haven't been able to unpack my books and records and get the full text and especially, my old head has that it's 1) a chopping song and also 2) the chop sounds much too fast to be possible even in a chain gang.

There's a good version by Belafonte on the web and finally I found a brief clip at Rounder. It's Southern Journey, not Lib. of Congress. The timing (and, no surprise, Belafonte has it right but dozens of terribly Mondegeened rock versions are silly wrong). It's very fast. So I began thinking it must be a hoeing song. I took a text from Belafonte for the time being.

Back to www.folkstreams.net and the streamed "Afro-American Work Songs in a Texas Prison." They don't do this song but do show just how chopping worked. Clearly, "Bald-headed" (actually called "Black Woman" in the original) is a chopping song and the film shows how the pace works - it's alternate strokes from different choppers on the same tree. Great!

The site also posts (see "titles") "Madison County Project: Documenting the Sound" Martha King, Rob Roberts & Grace; 2005. This is done locally here (NC) a fine, fine follow-up of Sharp's/Campbell's work and what was fictionalized in "Song Catcher." They still ballad-sing. And good, too.

I wish the Mystic Seaport chanteymen would offer a demo film of the work and especially the timing of a set of differently used chanteys. They do the demos in situ but I'm not aware it's been filmed. It's hard to reckon where the stresses go without such. A few books put in marks but it's not the same.

Just thought I'd share this. Please forgive the reiterations.


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